Always.

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I’m being tricked, I know it, but there doesn’t seem to be a way out.

It started yesterday. I woke to find a man sitting at the foot of my bed. I have no idea how he got there, but to say I was scared is the understatement of the year.

He said sorry, didn’t mean to frighten me.

But I dug in my heels and demanded he leave.

He kept trying to talk, but I didn’t want to hear it, so I screamed for my housemates. All three came running and I hid behind them. Willing the man to leave.

I know he wasn’t really that scary, but his gentle persistence to stay made me cautious.

Why wouldn’t he just leave?

I walked to a friends’ but he followed.

I went to rehearsal for the big holiday production, but he followed.

I kept asking him to leave, but he said he wouldn’t. Told me he loved me. Wanted to take care of me for the rest of my life. All the mushy stuff every girl wants to hear. But instead of his words melting my heart, it beat wildly and all I wanted to do was run away.

I took solace in my friends. In rehearsal, but still he followed.

And worse, my friends seemed to like him. To tell me I was being ridiculous. That he was a good guy. Any girl would be lucky. It’s like the beginning of some bad rom-com. Nora Ephron would be ashamed of such bad writing.

I tried to bring reason. To remind them it had only been one day! One day! That he’d been some creeper waiting for me to wake up. Come on?! But they just shrugged it off.

That night, surrounded by my friends, with cameras watching. He asked me to marry him. I couldn’t say no. I wanted to. Believe me. But how can you say no when the whole world is watching? There’s an unspoken agreement when you’re a “Somebody”. You’ve got to keep the people happy.

So I did what I do best. Act. I plastered the most meaningful smile on my face and felt the tears come to the edges of my eyes and said, “Yes.”

Everything snowballed from there.

The holiday production became the backdrop for our wedding and reception. Twinkle lights hung around the room, like icing on the walls. Gold ribbons and Edison lights hung like chandeliers.

I can’t deny the room is like a fairy-tale. Marred only by the presence of reporters and cameras. Today, everyone is here to celebrate, except for me.

I know I’ve been tricked by this man, who smiles for the camera. He’s out-maneuvered me.

The wedding goes off without a hitch. It’s perfect. Every shot the photographer gets is like magic, there’s not a hair out of place. The smile on my face even convinces me I’m happy. Though my heart tells me different.

I’m committing myself to this person. Doomed to spend the rest of my life with him. Is he kind? Smart? Is he a good man?

I sneak off to the toilet. Needing a moment to catch my breath, to process what all this means.

But I’m not alone. He’s come too.

I want to scream at him, but the look on his face stops me. He seems shy. Uncomfortable even. This man who’s followed me around like an eager puppy, now tries to hide by dipping his head and only glancing at my eyes once.

“What do you want?” I ask.

“Only to clear the air.” he says, “I know you don’t love me now, but I promise to always cherish you.” He drops to a knee and I can’t help but wonder about someone who promises the world. “I will always be here for you. Always be a friend. Always be a support. I’ll always be your strength when you’re weak and when you find you need it, you will always find my love for you.”

How can I trust that? Yet something about his eyes shifts my heart and I know no matter what I do, he will never hurt me. His unconditional love reminds me of Peta from Hunger Games.

I’m amazed by the switch in my heart. Amazed by this kind of persistent love. I know the things he’s done should be down-right creepy, but they’re not. All of it points back to how he’s loved me. In that moment I see our lives together, like the flash of a movie montage. The kids, the life of adventure, the struggles and pain, but in everything the deep love of a shared life.

I’m on the verge of speaking all the things in my heart, but the familiar buzz of an alarm calls me away.

 

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